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Acoustic bass volume woes...

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Claymore, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Claymore


    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    The other unplugged post got me thinking. The general consensus is that an acoustic bass will get buried under an acoustic guitar and the only way to get unburied is to either play a DB or get a combo. So instead of making the bass louder, could you make the guitar quieter (besides a soundhole cover or him just playing softer)? This is assuming that you had a guitar player that was willing to make adjustments so that you could be heard better in the mix. Granted, it would be a quieter performance overall and the percussionist would also have to adapt his playing but is this feasible? Are there maybe guitar strings that cut way back on the volume? I've been wondering about this for a while. If an acoustic guitar was strung with the most muted strings currently in production, would an acoustic bass with bright strings be on an even keel volume-wise? Let me know your thoughts.
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I can't imagine a acoustic guitarist agreeing to use strings that intentionally mute the guitar. You might as well ask them to play a Baby Taylor. Actually, a Baby Taylor would probably balance pretty well with a decent ABG.

    My impression is that phosphor bronze strings are used on ABGs because they are the loudest, narliest strings available.

    In my experience the audience can actually hear the ABG fine. It's not like normal were the bass is like a dump truck powering the metaphorical groove down the road, but the bass is present and it makes a nice contribution. The problem is bass players are used to standing next to a powerful amp and feeling like they are driving the band, and it's really unnerving to play an ABG and feel dominated and helpless.

    Some things to keep in mind, bass tends to travel further than higher frequencies, so the sound balances out better in the distance. Also the sound radiates horizontally out of an ABG more than vertically towards you ears. This means an ABG sounds louder to people in front of you than it does to you. The other big problem is most people want to here their voice and instrument about 6-10dB louder than surrounding instruments. Even if the ABG was as loud as the guitars (which it is not), the low end would not seem as loud, and to make matters worse this is more of a problem at low volume--See the Fletcher Munson curve below:
    If you are curious, the graph is from this article: Studio Tone vs. Live Tone and the Fletcher Munson Curve

    I think if I were regularly gigging with my Tacoma CB10, I would probably buy Roland Cube Street EX and a battery powered compressor and HPF. Sorry but I like to feel like I am driving a dump truck, even if it's a little one :cool:.
  3. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    You can't..but the guitar player surely can.

    Whether he actually will..none of us will tell you...
    s0c9, Claymore and Wasnex like this.
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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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